Rare! 1938 Balda Baldaxette, 6x4.5 Coupled Rangefinder camera, CLA'd, Freshly Serviced!
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!
This is a rare, prewar German camera. It’s a 6x4.5 coupled rangefinder folding camera that used 120 film and was produced by the Balda Kamera-Werk in Dresden Germany in 1938. This version with the attractive chrome plated top, fitted with a shutter release. Period information suggests that it was only produced for a single year. The low production numbers and low survival rate there cameras after WWII makes this a very difficult to find camera, especially in this condition.
Despite being virtually unknown to today’s camera collectors, the Baldaxette was very popular in its era and had a host of high spec features that allowed it to compete successfully against its competition. So why don’t we see more of them today. I think it’s a combination of the small production run and contented owners who more often than not, simply used these cameras over many years until they wore out.
The Baldaxette features a parallax compensating viewfinder. Simply stated this improves viewfinder accuracy and insures you don’t cut off heads when working in close. How? Well the viewfinder is linked to the rangefinder via a surprisingly effective mechanism. When the camera is focused to infinity the viewfinder is aimed normally but as focus is set closer the viewfinder is progressively and automatically swings downwards and to the right. This provides a much more accurate image of what the lens will record. This is a very rare feature in prewar camera design and I can’t think of another 6x4.5 rangefinder camera that has it.
Another nice feature is that the lens and shutter moves together as a unit when focusing. This provides better lens performance (especially up close) than the more common “front cell focus” in which only the front element is turned in or out. In addition to that, the coupled rangefinder makes focusing quick and easy and never leaves you guessing about distance or focus.
Want more? How about a unique ratcheting winder? It also has a strong die cast door to protect the lens and shutter. And the body mounted shutter release automatically retracts when the lens door is closed… this creates a smooth top deck that’s easy to slide into a pocket.
These features make this camera appealing to artists, photographers with a historical interest and collectors. As a result few are willing to sell them. Because of this and the low production numbers the prewar Balda Baldaxette will always be very desirable and hard to find cameras.
The camera has been cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. The top of the line Compur-Rapid shutter fires smoothly and all speeds (T,B & 1 sec to 1/400th) are appropriate. The slow speeds buzz along nicely and the fast speeds are clean and snappy. The rangefinder image is easy to see and accurate. The bellows are supple and light tight.
Balda offered various lenses for this model. The lens on this example is the popular 2.9/7,5cm (75mm) Radionar. It’s a classic Cooke design with three elements in three groups and well known for the attractive rendition and lovely bokeh. The glass is in exceptionally fine condition. It’s clear and clear, no scratches, no cleaning marks and it’s capable of producing beautiful photos with modern color & B&W films. As with all prewar lenses, we recommend keeping the sun behind you for best performance.
All in all a very lovely collectable classic camera. Load it with your favorite film and keep it with you for that perfect shot you’ve been looking for. You know the one... the one with the perfect Ansel Adams light breaking through the dark storm clouds that leaves you wishing that you had a classic camera with you.